There’s no doubt that TV and film are big businesses. The former is experiencing a renaissance as premium cable and streaming services bring a level of polish and sophistication to the medium that it’s not yet seen. The latter offers bigger spending (and higher returns) than ever before as superhero films and other big ticket blockbusters dominate the summers. But investing in these enterprises isn’t without its perils, and that’s why going in with a clear head and a process in mind is important. Simon Horsman and Jeffrey Soros recently sat down to discuss the investment market built up around the film and TV industries, and their thoughts were enlightening.
The two men are members of LAMF: a financing and investment company focusing on finding the best live events, films, and TV series to invest in. Their focus isn’t on breakout blockbusters like The Avengers or Fast and the Furious, but rather on serious dramas and documentaries, many of which are indie productions featuring well known names and which could become Oscar contenders.
While the men started working exclusively in film, the lesson that’s driven their decisions since day one will be familiar to many traditional investors. Know your market. Each project they choose to invest in is first assessed for its ability to fit comfortably within the standards of a genre but should also bring something unique. Finding the fine line between a product that’s both identifiable and fresh can be difficult, but they see it as a necessity to success in the market.
But due diligence is just as important in this market as it is in any other. Investors need to understand the distinctions between studio and independent films. Since studio ventures tend to already have the apparatuses for distribution, marketing, and production in place, investors are essentially just betting on the box office. Financing independent films is more of a hands on experience, but it brings with it a more satisfying level of ownership. Both men take an approach of detaching themselves from creative development. Proper investment in the market is about letting the creatives do what they need to do and trusting them to secure a return on your investment.
Fundamentally, investing in this kind of market comes down to personal relationships. It requires trusting the creatives and executives behind a product’s development and recognizing how the film can connect to audiences. That careful balance between a creative and financial understanding makes it one of the most unique financial opportunities around.